Sustainability at HPU

Sustainability in Hawai`i

"Our island environment is not only the basis for our quality of life, it is also the lifeblood of our economy. We look at environmental issues with future generations in mind, and as we explore Hawaii’s boundless, clean energy potential, we trust they will benefit from our stewardship."

- Governor Neil Abercrombie

Developing sustainable and self-sufficient communities in Hawai`i is as important here as anywhere else in the world. Being one of the most isolated places in the world brings unique challenges, but also provides a great opportunity to become the model of sustainability for the rest of the world. Along with other island states and nations, Hawai`i will likely be more affected than other communities by the consequences of global climate change, including rising sea levels and more severe weather systems. To address these important issues, the State of Hawai`i has developed ambitious goals to help lead the way to a more sustainable future. The support for sustainability in Hawai`i crosses political lines with major carbon reduction and clean energy policies and initiatives being developed in 2007 and 2008 under republican governor, Linda Lingle, and a continued focus on sustainability in Hawai`i under current democratic governor, Neil Abercrombie. 

Hawai`i Clean Energy Initiative

Hawai`i is currently the most fossil fuel dependent state in the nation. While less than 1% of electricity across the rest of the nation is generated from oil, Hawai`i relies on oil for 74% of our electricity generation. Because of this, Hawaii's electricity prices are three times higher than the national average. To address this issue, the State developed the Hawai`i Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI) in 2008. The Hawai‘i Clean Energy Initiative was developed to reduce Hawaii's dependence on oil by setting goals and a plan to achieve 70% clean energy by 2030. This 70% clean energy goal comes from energy efficiency measures (30%) and the use of locally generated renewable energy sources (40%). These clean energy goals are among the most aggressive in the nation, and if acheived, Hawai`i will become a world leader in clean and renewable energy. As well as reducing Hawaii's contribution to global climate change with GHG emission associated with fossil fuels, the HCEI will also contribute to addressing important challenges such as:

  • Becoming less reliant on other economies;
  • Acheiving greater energy security;
  • Saving an estimated $6 billion a year that would go towards foreign oil investments;
  • Establishing a thriving green economic sector;
  • Attracting more buisness and expertise to the area as a wrold leader in clean energy.

In June, 2013, a new report was released by the State of Hawai`i Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism to provide an update of the State's progress in reaching the HCEI goals. Some important findings of the report include:

  • Average residential electricity use in Hawai`i reduced from 586 kilowatt hours (kwh)/month in 2011 to 545 kwh/month in 2012.
  • In 2012, 13.7% of Hawaii's electricity was generated from renewable sources. Renewable generation required by 2015 is 15%, 25% by 2020, and 40% by 2030.
  • In 2012, savings from energy efficiency measures have increased to 16.4%.
  • The renewable energy potential across Hawai`i is greater than the current state-wide energy demand. The largest renewable source potential is geothermal energy.
  • Because Oahu has the largest energy demand, and the greatest renewable potential lies on other islands, an inter-sland cable is needed to maximize renewable energy generation. The cable would save an estimated $7 billion in oil costs over 30 years.
  • Hawai`i now has 1287 registered electric cars on the road, and over 300 publicly available electric car charging stations.
  • As of 2012, Hawai`i has reached 30% clean energy for the State (13.7% renewable energy, and 16.4% energy efficiency), and remains 40% away from the HCEI goal.


Hawai`i Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals

In 2007 the State of Hawai`i passed ACT 234 into law, which was a bill developed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Hawai`i to 1990 levels by the year 2020. The GHG emission levels for the State of Hawai`i in 1990 was 15.34 million metric tons (MMT) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). Carbon dioxide equivalent is a measurement which equates all greenhouse gases to carbon dioxide, because each tytpe of greenhouse gas has different levels of global warming potential (heat-trapping capabilities in the atmosphere). An inventory performed in 2008 calculated that the 2007 emission levels for the State were 18.62 CO2e, which would require an 18% reduction in GHG emissions by 2020 to acheive the limit established in Act 234.

To help acheive this goal, Hawai`i developed a GHG reduction plan from permitted sources to establish facility-wide GHG emission caps for large existing sources with emissions greater than 100,000 CO2e. Twenty-five large sources have been identified across the State, and the plan includes a goal of a 25% reduction in GHG emissions from a 2010 emissions baseline of these facilities. The Clean Air Branch of the Hawai`i Department of Health is currently conducting a state-wide GHG emissions inventory to determine current emission levels. Hawai`i Pacific University student, Greg Schuster (MA GLSD), is assisting with this inventory as a GHG intern.